If you've always enjoyed watching legal dramas and are a quick typist, you may have considered a career as a court reporter. However, with technology advancing by leaps and bounds, the days when a court reporter would transcribe proceedings by hand (or even use a manual typewriter) are long gone. Many modern court reporters utilize voice-recognition software, cloud storage and sharing of transcripts, and other high-tech options that can enable them to quickly and accurately generate a transcript of court proceedings. Is the emergence of new technology a threat to the court reporting field when it comes to job availability? Read on to learn more about how technology is changing the way court reporters do business and whether the number of court reporters needed in the future is predicted to grow or shrink. 

What technology might you use as a newly-minted court reporter?

Although some counties or districts still utilize more "old school" methods of generating transcripts, many parts of the country have invested in technology that makes it quicker and easier than ever before to put down the events of a hearing, trial, or other court proceeding on paper. 

Voice-recognition technology can provide real-time transcription of court proceedings into a digital form. Although the court reporter will need to review this transcript to ensure accuracy (either in real-time or using a digital recording of the hearing), this takes much of the more tedious typing away from the court reporter and can allow him or her to attend to other business, like preparing files or calling cases. 

Another technological innovation that has become useful for many court reporters is the development of software that allows a transcript to be seamlessly passed from one court reporter to another. Under most older systems, a single court reporter was responsible for preparing a transcript due to the difficulty of transferring this document among several different employees and still obtaining an accurate transcript of proceedings. Using this software, all records of the proceeding (like audio or video recordings and written exhibits) are uploaded to a secure cloud, allowing court reporters to work on a transcript while away from the office, transfer the transcript to another reporter if a deadline is pending, or take other actions to ensure the timely completion of the transcript. 

Will changes in technology put court reporters out of business? 

The court reporting field is projected to grow more slowly than average over the next decade, with around a 2 percent increase in the number of available positions (compared to an average 7 percent growth rate for all positions). However, specializing in a certain area (such as captioning for those who are deaf or hard of hearing) can help improve your employment prospects. There will still be demand for court reporting services in the future, such as from Farrell Court Reporting, even if technological advances change the court reporter's role from one of stenographer to one of courtroom manager.